High Noone

IN her annual speech to the nation (or at least to those not comatose after overdosing on turkey, cranberry sauce and sprouts) the Queen described 2019 as a “bumpy” year. In today’s Diary we look back at classic yarns which could also be described in such terms. For instance there was the Sheriff J Irvine Smith who was notorious for giving those who stood before him a very bumpy ride indeed. A famous client of Irvine Smith’s was the late Barney Noone. It’s fair to say Barney had developed a rapport with Sheriff J. This went as far as poetry. One day, having been found guilty, Mr Noone wrote a message in verse which he asked to be passed to the Bench. The sheriff read the poetic plea in mitigation and without hesitation pronounced: “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and Barney Noone.”

Write off

NOVELISTS often have a bumpy time when they meet the general public. The late author William McIlvanney once told us a story about the downside of fame. Willie was in a pub in his home town of Kilmarnock, attempting to enjoy a quiet drink. Up popped a chap who said: “I don’t like to interrupt, but somebody wants to meet you.” At the end of the bar was a man in a raincoat clutching a poly bag full of writing. The man began by telling McIlvanney he didn’t actually like his books but would value an opinion on his own work, which was lurking in the poly bag. “I’m sorry, I don’t have my specs here,” said McIlvanney, patting his left inside jacket pocket. Which was true, since his specs were in his right inside jacket pocket. Undeterred, the would-be author took a sheaf of paper from his poly bag and recited into McIlvanney’s ear: “It was a dark night in Amsterdam. Spencer was dead…”

Striking out

STRIKERS in football who fail to score are given a bumpy ride by fans. After a lengthy goal famine struck Scotland, it was rumoured that on one foreign trip, striker Gordon Durie couldn’t find his way into the team hotel. Someone had painted goalposts over the door.

Barking mad

SECTARIANISM has made life in Glasgow overly bumpy for the city’s inhabitants. Yet still it exists in all its illogical manifestations. We recall the pupil at a school in Pollok who knocked at the staff-room door and blurted out the news: “Please, miss. There’s a Catholic dog in the playground.”

Boxing clever

SOMETIMES bumps in life are avoided by thinking ahead. Many years ago, on a coach transporting holidaymakers from Glasgow to Paris, the courier person spotted an old lady sitting with a TV on her lap. “Why are you taking a TV to Paris?” was the obvious question. “I don’t want to miss Coronation Street,” came the reply. “But French television doesn’t have Coronation Street,” said the courier. “Exactly,” said the old lady. “That’s why I’m taking my own set.”

Daylight robbery

WE do like a good malapropism, even when it describes a bumpy meeting. We recall the granny who described how an audacious thief stole her purse in the street “when it was pitch daylight”.